Around the corner from the Santo Domingo Church on Ave. Cinco de May #408 is the new gallery shop opened by my friends Federico Chavez Sosa and his wife Dolores Santiago Arrellanas. Her nickname is Lola and his is Fe! They weave the most spectacular tapetes (rugs) that I have talked about and featured on my blog and website for the past several years. This is a new adventure for the family. They have been based in Teotitlan del Valle their entire lives, where they live, work and sell their rugs from their home on Francisco I. Madero #55. Now, their dream to have a spot in the city that is more accessible to visitors is realized.
They work only in natural dyes, buying the hand carded and spun churro wool from friends in the Oaxaca highland town of Chichicapam. They wash the wool by hand and prepare it in skein for dyeing. Then, they create the glorious, vibrant colors using the natural, organic materials from the cochineal bug and plants: wild marigold, indigo, pecan leaves and shells, pomegranates, lichens and moss.
In addition to the rugs, wall hangings and table coverings, you will find handbags, folk art and other collectibles.
There are many rug vendors in Oaxaca, but few have the artistic mastery of this weaving family. Designs range from contemporary to traditional, and many rugs incorporate the Zapotec motifs from the archeological sites of Mitla and Monte Alban. There is depth and imagination that you will find no where else.
It is important to emphasize that chemical dyes used by most other weavers are toxic and put the people who use them at risk for cancer and respiratory illness. Using natural dyes takes time, skill and greater expense. Supporting weavers who use authentic natural dyes is a way to sustain the environment, promote good health, and reintroduce indigenous dyeing techniques.
Galeria Lola y Fe has been open less than a week. It is inside a lovely courtyard with a bubbling fountain, in a space shared by the Gestalt Institute. To get there, you enter into the courtyard and it is on your immediate left. The gallery is not visible from the street, so you have to venture inside the courtyard, past the shop that sells fabrics from Mitla. It is a few doors down from my other favorite gallery, El Nahual.
You can see the documentary I made about this work on YouTube: Weaving a Curve Movie
To contact Lola y Fe, telephone (951) 524-4078. Hours vary.
Or (951) 1302481 (son Eric Chavez Santiago, director of education, Museo Textil de Oaxaca)